Update on Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP); First look at education costs to state from Hurricane Harvey

Update on Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): If the U.S. Congress does not quickly renew the expired authority for the federal Children’s Health Insurance Program, hundreds of thousands of Texas schoolchildren from low-income working families are going to lose their health coverage by next February. That’s when the state would run out of CHIP funds if […]

Attack on health care stopped in its tracks; AND Check out the new issue of American Educator

Attack on Health Care Stopped in its Tracks:  Good work, Texas AFT activists! Thanks to your advocacy and that of many more like you nationwide, the U.S. Senate leadership has withdrawn its latest attempt to strip away affordable health care from millions of Americans. Here’s some of what AFT President Randi Weingarten had to say […]

Health care threatened—make your voice heard in Congress?

While backers of the latest attack on the federal Affordable Care Act have framed their Graham-Cassidy bill as one that gives power back to the states, it actually gives states the right to weaken the ACA’s protections for those with pre-existing conditions and the law’s requirements that insurers cover essential health benefits.  In fact, this […]

Congress tries again to gut health care—don’t let them get away with it

Key players in the U.S. Senate are making a last-ditch effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act and strip millions of their health insurance. Don’t let them get away with it. The decisive vote on this bad proposal is likely to occur next week. The Graham-Cassidy bill is being sold as a compromise—but it’s not. It’s […]

SBOE planning effort; Children’s health insurance at risk; AND A Texas educator’s take on the fight for immigrant rights

State Board of Education stakes claim as long-term education goal-setter:  The State Board of Education began work Tuesday on a Long-Range Plan for Public Education that would establish core goals for the public schools.  The first meeting of a new 18-member steering committee to advise the SBOE focused on models of long-range plans developed by other states. The committee is […]

TRS-Care health cost increases reduced for retirees—“softening the blow”

After an outcry erupted from thousands of active and retired teachers and other school employees over cost increases imposed on school retirees by the Legislature this spring, lawmakers in their summer special session ponied up an additional $212 million to scale back the increases. The Teacher Retirement System board was given the task of spending […]

News on retiree health care, TEA recapture relief, and new laws effective Sept. 1

Retiree health-care costs on TRS Board agenda:  On September 1 the trustees of the state Teacher Retirement System will confirm the new rates and benefit structures for the TRS-Care health plan for school retirees for calendar years 2018-2019. The revised rates and benefits will reflect the infusion of $212 million in state funds by the Legislature […]

Recapping the special session, part one

We have much to be thankful for in relation to the July-August special session of the Texas Legislature—primarily for the fact that it is over. The session called by Gov. Greg Abbott that ran from July 18 through August 15 ended with Abbott and his sidekick Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick frustrated by their failure to […]

When brutal cost increases and benefit reductions in the state retired teachers’ health-care plan awakened a “sleeping giant,” legislators took notice

TRS-Care bolstered just before the House’s dramatic sine die I retired in May of 2013 after a 29-year teaching career, one in Brownsville ISD and 28 in McAllen ISD.  Before I retired, I looked carefully at the three Teacher Retirement System health-care options (TRS-Care)–tiers 1, 2, and 3.  I chose the one with the best […]

House accepts stripped-down Senate school-funding bill with TRS-Care cost relief, then shuts down special session

The Texas House voted 94 to 46 this evening to accept a stripped-down Senate version of HB 21 on school funding. The Senate amendments to HB 21 eliminated $1.5 billion of the $1.8 billion in the House-passed version, completely eliminating the main sources of any new aid to cash-strapped urban districts–a proposed increase in the […]